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Eagles advance in NCAA Regionals with 8-0 win over UNCG
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Georgia Southern's Sam Blancato, center, is welcomed at home by teammate Jesse Sherrill while scoring on a double by JP Tighe in the second inning against UNC Greensboro during the rain-delayed second game of the NCAA Regionals at J.I. Clements Stadium on Saturday, June 4. PHOTO BY SCOTT BRYANT/Staff

Georgia Southern pitcher Ty Fisher was hit in the face by a line drive earlier this season against UCF and the big question afterward was would he pitch again this season. Fisher only missed three weeks and since then has been the Eagles most reliable starter. Saturday morning Fisher allowed only four hits in shutting down the UNC Greensboro bats with a complete game victory helping the Eagles to an 8-0 win in their opening game of the NCAA Regionals.

 

“I’m so proud of our guys and it all started with Ty Fisher on the mound,” said Eagle coach Rodney Hennon. “He got us off to a great start and was in a great rhythm all day long. He was throwing whatever he wanted to throw and working ahead in the count. We played good defense behind him and scored early. We got that big fifth inning to extend the lead and it was just a tremendous effort.”

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Georgia Southern pitcher Ty Fisher delivers a pitch in the second inning against UNC Greensboro at J.I. Clements Stadium on Saturday, June 4. PHOTO BY SCOTT BRYANT/Staff

 

The Eagles were originally scheduled to play UNC Greensboro Friday night at 7:00 to open up the NCAA Regionals. Mother Nature had other plans as the opening game between Notre Dame and Texas Tech was delayed multiple times due to weather and didn’t even finish until 11:32 p.m. with the Fighting Irish winning 3-2. NCAA Regulations prevent games from starting past 11:00 p.m. and around 8:00 the decision was made to push the Georgia Southern game back to 10 a.m. Saturday.

 

An early morning crowd of 2,182 were on hand and saw Fisher come out on fire as he struck out the first three Spartan batters he faced. Fisher wouldn’t allow a hit until the top of the seventh on an infield hit by Pres Cavanaugh. Fisher said after the game he didn’t necessarily think he’d be on top of his game Saturday after getting very little sleep overnight.

 

“I was actually pretty tired out there early and didn’t get much sleep,” said Fisher. “I haven’t struck out the side in the first inning all year and after the first I thought I could do something pretty cool and it worked out.”

 

The Eagles have been aggressive on the bases all year long and they’d take the lead in the first. Jesse Sherrill led off with a single and then Jason Swan followed that with a single himself. Sherrill took off to third on the hit and Swan advanced to second on the throw to third.  Sherrill would come home as Christian Avant drove a deep shot to left. Kennedy Jones came up with a leaping catch, but Sherrill scored and the Eagles took a 1-0 lead.

 

The Eagles added another run in the bottom of the second as Sam Blancato ripped a double to left, and would come in to score on a double to right by J.P. Tighe for a 2-0 Eagle lead.

 

The Eagles showed plenty of defensive plays which helped them to a No. 7 national ranking in fielding percentage. Austin Thompson fielded a ground ball in the third about six feet to the right side of second base and spun all the way around before throwing out Bradley Bott. Parker Biederer later made a leaping grab against the wall in left in the top of the sixth which at the time kept Fisher’s no-hitter intact.

 

 

The Eagles got a little separation in the bottom of the fifth. After another double by Tighe the Eagles came through with some more clutch performances. Sherrill would single allowing Tighe to get to third. Swan would then walk to load the bases and with the infield in Christian Avant singled into left scoring Sherrill and Swan for a 4-0 lead. Later same inning with the bases loaded Austin Thompson drove a sacrifice fly to left to make it 5-0. Jarrett Brown added a flare to left which fell in for a single plating Avant for a 6-0 lead.

 

The Eagles added a pair of runs in the seventh on a Noah Ledford leadoff double and then a bunt by Thompson was thrown away allowing Ledford to score.  Blancato then doubled to right bringing home Thompson for the final run of the game.

 

“I think these guys have played with a tournament mindset all year long,” said Hennon. “That means showing up and focusing on the game goals we have in place for the team and being as competitive as we can be one pitch at a time.”

 

Despite having to wait through the delays last night and come to the park early Saturday morning the crowd on hand was primarily Georgia Southern fans and the players and coaches appreciated their support.

 

“The fans stayed around all day and through the night and then came back today and showed up and showed out and that is so special to me,” said Christian Avant. “It shows how much they support us and want us to do well. We are all proud we get to play in front of them the rest of the weekend.”

 

Hennon also appreciated all the former players who came back to support the current team.

 

“I have said all week how special this place is,” said Hennon. “This means so much to the current players but also to the guys who came before them. I have heard from so many former players and then got a chance to see a lot of the guys yesterday. The fact that they come back and take so much pride in it is great. I also want to thank everyone in the community as well as Dr. Kyle Marrero and Jared Benko and his who all put in so much work. That is what makes this place so special and I don’t think it’s like this everywhere.”

 

Up next the Eagles have to wait for the loser’s bracket game between UNCG and Texas Tech before they take on Notre Dame. Game time is tentatively set for 5:00 but weather expected in the area could push that time back.